FEBRUARY 18, 2013
As horrible as I Am The Ripper was, I got through it armed with the knowledge that it will most likely be the last time I force myself to watch such a terrible movie. With only about six weeks left (sorry!) at HMAD I find myself being choosier, and with lots of Hollywood stuff and review discs on the way I should more or less be covered and thus not have to dig deep into Netflix when I'm between disc rentals. So grats, I Am The Ripper - barring unforeseen circumstances or Evil Dead somehow being a disaster, you'll be the last movie that makes me regret doing this!
And since it was just added to Instant, it'll probably be there for a while, so if you're compelled to ask "Why are you quitting?", just go watch any five minute chunk of this thing and then see if you still don't understand why I'd like to not spend more of my life watching this sort of rubbish. See, I've only ever shut off one movie in HMAD history, and it's something that I don't want to repeat - that bar has been set and thus I have to ask myself "Is this worse than that?" (I'll keep the title to myself, thanks - trust me, it's nothing you've even heard of anyway). And if the answer is no, and it always is, I press on - and besides, by the time I realize there's no hope for the movie I've already spent 30-40 minutes on it, so I might as well just finish it and not let my effort be in vain, since I'd still have to watch something else anyway.
So what makes this such a horrid disaster? Mostly everything. It took a mere 30 seconds for me to get worried, as the low-grade camera was zooming in and out, jerking around, etc as it depicted a brash guy telling his friend that he should be able to get laid more often than he does. After a bit of this they arrive at their destination: a house party filled with what appears to be the drunken members of the local university's film program. Two guys argue about Alien vs. Predator, a girl tells a guy about Tales from the Crypt, another recaps a Dolph Lundgren movie... that plus the apartment is adorned with posters for such classics as 13th Warrior and Pearl Harbor. And this whole time, the camera keeps spinning around and zooming in and out of people's faces before speed-ramping over to another conversation. It's clear that writer/director François Gaillard watched the party scene from Irreversible about 49 times and thought "Yeah, I can do that", but honestly I'd rather watch that grueling rape scene for 3 hours straight before submitting myself to a single moment of this movie again.
Anyway, things start to improve a few minutes later when a skull-masked killer shows up and dispatches one of the guests. I don't know if it could be done, but it would be interesting to see someone attempt a slasher movie set entirely in a cramped apartment party (sort of like the finale of Entrance, but for a whole movie), which is what I thought this was going to be. However, he wipes out most of the guests pretty quickly, and then the movie's real plot of warring angels begins - the survivor of the massacre is invited to a wrestling match with Death and gets 24 hours to prepare, only to get sucked into some sort of hell on earth nonsense that provides an excuse for endless shooutouts and hand-to-hand combat sequences cribbed from a 3rd rate Matrix ripoff circa 2002. I will admit, some of the stunt work is actually impressive considering the film's micro-budget, but it's wasted on Gaillard's hyperactive camera and incoherent script - at no point did I ever have a clear idea of why anyone was fighting or what they wanted to accomplish. Plus, they all keep shooting at each other even though it seems that bullets can't harm them (they're all angels of death or whatever the hell), rendering the scenes pointless along with confusing and ugly.
By the time the movie stopped cold to re-explain what was actually one of the few coherent plot points in the entire movie (that Death had challenged him to a wrestling match - I said coherent, not "intelligent"), I gave up all hope, which was unfortunate as there was still another 50 minutes to go. More unnecessary, stakes-free battles, amateurish dialogue/acting, nonsensical plot turns (at one point there's a hooded figure battling in a forest, which is either a flashback or a dream - even for this movie that one threw me for a loop), and hideous cinematography awaited! Fuck, even the goddamn credits were confusing, with a bunch of names tossed together haphazardly and no indication of who they played, plus a few where it seems that they didn't have the first (or last?) name.
Now, to be fair, Gaillard was clearly aiming at something really complicated and with a lot of mythology; at times it felt like the overstuffed attempt at adapting a lengthy video game or comic series (Hellblazer may have been an influence as well), and I like that he used a typical slasher to springboard into something far more elaborate. But it's just too much to ask an audience to try to follow all of this stuff as the camera spins and zooms around in a manner that might make the Crank guys sick, and with every plot scene raced through in order to get to the next John Woo wannabe gunfight (there are at least 3 Mexican standoff scenes). There's a chance this might be an interesting movie, but it needs a budget, a great script, and a skilled filmmaker to pull it off - otherwise it's just, well, the mess that it is. If Gaillard was a 13 year old with a lot of gusto, then kudos to him for getting the movie finished, otherwise this is a bit embarrassing even by no-budget standards - those Decrepit Crypt movies were just as shoddy but at least I could follow the damn things without getting a headache. Jesus, what a nightmare.
I now propose the same challenge I offered my Twitter followers - load it up on Netflix (or Amazon Prime) and see how far you can make it before wanting to shut it off. Did I mention it has freeze-frames to introduce characters?
What say you?